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2016-17 State of the Habs


BigTed3

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What a difference a week makes. After going an underwhelming 1-2 to start off head coach Claude Julien’s second tenure with the team, the Montreal Canadiens are finally seeing some traction in the standings.

Habs Have Turned a Corner:

Granted, the second-place Ottawa Senators still hold enough games in hand to make up the six-point difference between the two teams. However, at 6-2 under Julien after stringing together five straight wins, the Canadiens have turned a corner, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.

This is actually the team’s longest winning streak since they won eight straight as part of that infamous 13-1-1 start. That doesn’t seem especially noteworthy, as teams rarely put together five-game winning streaks. However, consider the fact that, following that 13-1-1 start, the team’s longest winning streak up to this recent one? It was just three games. That happened just once. What’s maybe more of an indictment of the team’s mediocrity is how, excluding that three-game streak, they had won two games in a row only three other times.

So, you can see why there’s renewed optimism in Montreal among the team’s fanbase.

The Problem All Along:

Sure, the first four wins could have gone either way. However, with Carey Price regaining his swagger (.949 save percentage in the seven games under Julien), there’s a real belief his level of play is sustainable… and that maybe Michel Therrien was the problem all along.

That isn’t to suggest Price played badly on purpose and consciously torpedoed any shot of Therrien turning things around behind the bench. It’s more of an indication that, when your team is regularly giving up so many high-quality chances to score, any goalie would struggle.

Of course, there were signs Price wasn’t playing his best either, but, when your system requires your goalie to play lights-out all the time for it to work, maybe you need a reboot. And that’s what hiring Julien has done. Since he took over, the Habs have a healthy 51.2% edge in shot attempts (score-adjusted Corsi, via figures compiled from hockeystats.ca).

A Good Job:

Obviously, the Habs shouldn’t count their chickens before they’re hatched, but they’ve at least done a good job lining up their ducks in a row. Get a top head coach behind the bench? Check. Get Carey Price back on track? Check. Start winning again? Check.

http://thehockeywriters.com/canadiens-suddenly-contenders-again/

 

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There is zero doubt that the turnaround we're seeing is in large part due to Julien (a top-5 coach in the league) replacing Therrien (maybe a bottom 5 coach). Sure, one can argue that Benn and Martinsen and Ott arriving and injured players like Galchenyuk and Gallagher getting back in form are helping. But make no mistake about the fact that the coaching change is the biggest difference-maker thus far. We can see on the ice that the defensive zone coverage is better, the breakouts are better, the puck possession is more controlled, the PK is more aggressive... Julien has this team playing a much more effective system than his predecessor. We saw Julien do this the last time he took over for MT. We saw Bylsma do this when he propelled the under-achieving Therrien Pens into Cup champs. Now we're seeing a coach come in to fix Therrien's problematic system yet again. Are the Habs suddenly a Cup contender? No. They need to show they can get more sustained secondary scoring. They need to show they can patch up some holes in their defence. And they're still missing 1-2 top-tier players that Bergevin couldn't find. But they're closer than they were a month ago with Therrien at the helm. I do think MB is getting way too much credit for the team's turnaround, because I don't think much of this has to do with the newcomers. I still think calling up Hudon would do more for us than Martinsen or Ott or King. this turnaround has to do with CJ finally getting the time to implement his system and fix a lot of the mistakes MT and MB made along the way.

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32 minutes ago, BigTed3 said:

There is zero doubt that the turnaround we're seeing is in large part due to Julien (a top-5 coach in the league) replacing Therrien (maybe a bottom 5 coach). Sure, one can argue that Benn and Martinsen and Ott arriving and injured players like Galchenyuk and Gallagher getting back in form are helping. But make no mistake about the fact that the coaching change is the biggest difference-maker thus far. We can see on the ice that the defensive zone coverage is better, the breakouts are better, the puck possession is more controlled, the PK is more aggressive... Julien has this team playing a much more effective system than his predecessor. We saw Julien do this the last time he took over for MT. We saw Bylsma do this when he propelled the under-achieving Therrien Pens into Cup champs. Now we're seeing a coach come in to fix Therrien's problematic system yet again. Are the Habs suddenly a Cup contender? No. They need to show they can get more sustained secondary scoring. They need to show they can patch up some holes in their defence. And they're still missing 1-2 top-tier players that Bergevin couldn't find. But they're closer than they were a month ago with Therrien at the helm. I do think MB is getting way too much credit for the team's turnaround, because I don't think much of this has to do with the newcomers. I still think calling up Hudon would do more for us than Martinsen or Ott or King. this turnaround has to do with CJ finally getting the time to implement his system and fix a lot of the mistakes MT and MB made along the way.

I agree with what you're saying but keep in mind that MB did fix one mistake by getting rid of Therrien. Some credit has to go to Bergevin for recognizing that Therrien was the problem all along. Also, keep in mind that it's too small a sample size with regards to the newcomers and what they bring to the table. Maybe with a different team and different coach one of them can become the next Danault.

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Why am I thinking of groundhog Day? I believe Bergevin did at reading the sentiment of the players, while giving Therrien as much time as possible to turn things around. We also caught a break with Julien becoming avaiable at a perfect time. Perhaps the stars are aligning for this team. I think we will see Hudon toward the playoff  and feel quite a bit more secure about this years playoffs with the experience we added. It will be interesting to see what ends up playing the largest part in this years team once the season comes to an end. I think we have significantly improvec our chances of coming out of the east, although Washington (Pittsburgh) will be a tough team to beat if we get that far

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15 minutes ago, GreekHockeyCoach said:

Some credit has to go to Bergevin for recognizing that Therrien was the problem all along. Also, keep in mind that it's too small a sample size with regards to the newcomers and what they bring to the table. Maybe with a different team and different coach one of them can become the next Danault.

MT was the problem last year . Change should have been made last year but I guess there were no suitable replacements , although Guy Boucher was available and seems to be doing pretty good in Ottawa ( with Mike Condon as a back up ......lol )

Yes its a 5 game winning steak, three of the wins were in OT and 1 was with 9 seconds left before going into OT. Only the game against the Rangers was convincing .

Let's give it time before planning the parade , we've been down this route before

 

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47 minutes ago, GreekHockeyCoach said:

I agree with what you're saying but keep in mind that MB did fix one mistake by getting rid of Therrien. Some credit has to go to Bergevin for recognizing that Therrien was the problem all along. Also, keep in mind that it's too small a sample size with regards to the newcomers and what they bring to the table. Maybe with a different team and different coach one of them can become the next Danault.

You could be correct but I don't have any doubts Julien wanted some bigger players whom he can call upon depending on the opponent. MB didn't bring in just one player of their ilk, he brought in three. There has to be a reason for him doing so and I'll bet our top 9 are glad he did.

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37 minutes ago, GreekHockeyCoach said:

I agree with what you're saying but keep in mind that MB did fix one mistake by getting rid of Therrien. Some credit has to go to Bergevin for recognizing that Therrien was the problem all along. Also, keep in mind that it's too small a sample size with regards to the newcomers and what they bring to the table. Maybe with a different team and different coach one of them can become the next Danault.

It's just hard for me to give credit to Bergevin for firing Therrien when that move was made way too late. Therrien had poor possession metrics for three straight years, and it was very evident that the team was riding Carey Price and failing in terms of system. If anything, this was Therrien's best season as a coach since the lockout-shortened season in which he took over, and even then, it's hard to know whether credit for that goes to Therrien or Muller. Eventually, things fell apart, as they have to Therrien every year. MT simply never showed any ability to adapt and any ability to deal with adversity or injuries.

Now grant it, I will give Bergevin credit for recognizing Julien was the best candidate available and not going after Roy or Hartley. But the fact we even have to worry about MB liking Roy or Hartley says a lot about Bergevin as well. We'll see how things pan out, but I don't see Bergevin's moves as being all that ground-breaking. No big mistakes, but no big wins either. Bergevin has been very conservative his entire regime here, and while that lends itself to avoiding mistakes, it also makes it hard to elevate your team into the top echelon in a 30-team league. Bergevin has tinkered before, and bringing in the likes of Mitchell and Byron and Weise has brought short-term gains but has never been enough to put us over the top. Playing in a weak division this year and with Price/Pacioretty/Galchenyuk's bargain deals running out soon, Bergevin needed to commit to winning this year and he didn't. I'd say this is akin to MB sitting at a poker table holding a pair of queens when his opponents are all bluffing. And instead of going for the kill shot, he's sitting there waiting for another queen to turn up on the table. He's playing it safe at a time when he could be taking his opponents out of the game.

So sure, MB made the right move with his coach, but that move was two years too late and it was the obvious move to make for everyone with any hockey sense. His other moves may work out fine, but the magnitude of the impact will likely be small in itself. I simply think that most of the benefit we'll see will come from Julien getting more out of the current line-up than Bergevin's additions being the reason for further success.

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16 hours ago, BigTed3 said:

It's just hard for me to give credit to Bergevin for firing Therrien when that move was made way too late. Therrien had poor possession metrics for three straight years, and it was very evident that the team was riding Carey Price and failing in terms of system. If anything, this was Therrien's best season as a coach since the lockout-shortened season in which he took over, and even then, it's hard to know whether credit for that goes to Therrien or Muller. Eventually, things fell apart, as they have to Therrien every year. MT simply never showed any ability to adapt and any ability to deal with adversity or injuries.

Now grant it, I will give Bergevin credit for recognizing Julien was the best candidate available and not going after Roy or Hartley. But the fact we even have to worry about MB liking Roy or Hartley says a lot about Bergevin as well. We'll see how things pan out, but I don't see Bergevin's moves as being all that ground-breaking. No big mistakes, but no big wins either. Bergevin has been very conservative his entire regime here, and while that lends itself to avoiding mistakes, it also makes it hard to elevate your team into the top echelon in a 30-team league. Bergevin has tinkered before, and bringing in the likes of Mitchell and Byron and Weise has brought short-term gains but has never been enough to put us over the top. Playing in a weak division this year and with Price/Pacioretty/Galchenyuk's bargain deals running out soon, Bergevin needed to commit to winning this year and he didn't. I'd say this is akin to MB sitting at a poker table holding a pair of queens when his opponents are all bluffing. And instead of going for the kill shot, he's sitting there waiting for another queen to turn up on the table. He's playing it safe at a time when he could be taking his opponents out of the game.

So sure, MB made the right move with his coach, but that move was two years too late and it was the obvious move to make for everyone with any hockey sense. His other moves may work out fine, but the magnitude of the impact will likely be small in itself. I simply think that most of the benefit we'll see will come from Julien getting more out of the current line-up than Bergevin's additions being the reason for further success.

This .... my own take is to give MB virtually little credit for the turnaround. It was a fluke that CJ became available and drove the departure of Michel Terrible ..... For all we know Molson "ordered the hit" on his foxhole buddy and if left up to him, MB would still have MT here screwing up the team. The turnaround, if that is what it is, began before the newcomers showed up. The first four wins were grinders with a lot of luck included in the Habs prevailing. The last game against the Rangers was more of a complete game victory and we saw some good things from Benn/Martinsen/Ott. One might suspect that our regulars played with a little more "gumption" knowing the big boys were in the line up....I strongly believe CJ was behind the acquisitions we saw leading up to the deadline.

There is no doubt in my mind that CJ deserves a lot of the credit as the team is noticeably playing differently and with a purpose. It is also no coincidence that Carey has "found" his game again. Trading Subban was MB's signature move and a colossal blunder with what he got back in value. It has set this franchise back ... no question! Signing Rad has turned out well but I suspect we will not keep him and I would not argue that we should break the bank for him due to his age. Out of a need for full disclosure I will willingly admit that I do not like Bergevin. I believe he is arrogant and born of that arrogance is his complete disrespect of the fans of this club in the way he mislead us leading up to the S|ubban trade last year and throughout the Price injury debacle. Worse than his arrogance however is his failure to understand the value of PK to this franchise and the incompetence of his "foxhole buddy" who lost the confidence of his players. For these reasons I hope he takes the long walk off a short plank at the end of this season regardless of what happens the rest of the way. CJ is a top end NHL coach and I cannot imagine any incoming GM having a problem with him continuing to guide the team.

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A little dig at the previous coach's philosophy

http://montrealgazette.com/sports/hockey/nhl/montreal-canadiens/stu-cowan-canadiens-new-hunt-seek-and-seal-philosophy-helping-carey-price

think our philosophy, hunt, seek and seal, has been really pounded home over the last few days,” the goalie said. “Basically, it’s a philosophy of getting the puck back and get on offence. It’s been working for us.

Spending time chasing the puck around your own end isn’t really a good recipe for success,” Price added. “As long as we can hunt that puck down, get it back and we get back on offence, it’s obviously better for us.”

 

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On 3/6/2017 at 7:35 AM, Regis22 said:

MT was the problem last year . Change should have been made last year but I guess there were no suitable replacements , although Guy Boucher was available and seems to be doing pretty good in Ottawa ( with Mike Condon as a back up ......lol )

Yes its a 5 game winning steak, three of the wins were in OT and 1 was with 9 seconds left before going into OT. Only the game against the Rangers was convincing .

Let's give it time before planning the parade , we've been down this route before

 

Oh trust me there is no parade planning here. We still have a long way to go. However, I do like the way were are playing now. The team seems a lot more structured after only 8 games with Julien. I wouldn't have wanted Boucher or anyone else for that matter. The best two Francophone coaches at the moment in the NHL are Julien and Vigneault. Glad we got one of them.

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On 3/6/2017 at 8:05 AM, habs1952 said:

You could be correct but I don't have any doubts Julien wanted some bigger players whom he can call upon depending on the opponent. MB didn't bring in just one player of their ilk, he brought in three. There has to be a reason for him doing so and I'll bet our top 9 are glad he did.

I don't mind the big players, we were too small a team. At least the players we got rid of to acquire the big players played an insignificant part on this team and I'll glad we replaced them with bigger players. I would have been upset if we traded little guys that contribute (Byron, Gallagher etc) just for the sake of adding size.

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On 3/6/2017 at 8:07 AM, BigTed3 said:

It's just hard for me to give credit to Bergevin for firing Therrien when that move was made way too late. Therrien had poor possession metrics for three straight years, and it was very evident that the team was riding Carey Price and failing in terms of system. If anything, this was Therrien's best season as a coach since the lockout-shortened season in which he took over, and even then, it's hard to know whether credit for that goes to Therrien or Muller. Eventually, things fell apart, as they have to Therrien every year. MT simply never showed any ability to adapt and any ability to deal with adversity or injuries.

Now grant it, I will give Bergevin credit for recognizing Julien was the best candidate available and not going after Roy or Hartley. But the fact we even have to worry about MB liking Roy or Hartley says a lot about Bergevin as well. We'll see how things pan out, but I don't see Bergevin's moves as being all that ground-breaking. No big mistakes, but no big wins either. Bergevin has been very conservative his entire regime here, and while that lends itself to avoiding mistakes, it also makes it hard to elevate your team into the top echelon in a 30-team league. Bergevin has tinkered before, and bringing in the likes of Mitchell and Byron and Weise has brought short-term gains but has never been enough to put us over the top. Playing in a weak division this year and with Price/Pacioretty/Galchenyuk's bargain deals running out soon, Bergevin needed to commit to winning this year and he didn't. I'd say this is akin to MB sitting at a poker table holding a pair of queens when his opponents are all bluffing. And instead of going for the kill shot, he's sitting there waiting for another queen to turn up on the table. He's playing it safe at a time when he could be taking his opponents out of the game.

So sure, MB made the right move with his coach, but that move was two years too late and it was the obvious move to make for everyone with any hockey sense. His other moves may work out fine, but the magnitude of the impact will likely be small in itself. I simply think that most of the benefit we'll see will come from Julien getting more out of the current line-up than Bergevin's additions being the reason for further success.

I don't disagree with you but what would have been the point of firing Therrien last year when there weren't any viable options out there. At some point, it also comes down to dollars as well. The mistake was extending Therrien's contract. Last season was a lost year and it was pointless to fire him, no one could have come in and helped us especially with Price injured. The mistake was not getting a good backup. We had Budaj and let him go, instead we went with Condon who was clearly not up to the task.

All I'm saying it that when the right Francophone coach was made available, he made the right move. Other than that, MB has made way too many mistakes for me to give him credit as a GM in his tenure here in Montreal. Although I do believe that some of the trades he made were influenced by Therrien and the team that he wanted to field on the ice.

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4 hours ago, GreekHockeyCoach said:

I don't disagree with you but what would have been the point of firing Therrien last year when there weren't any viable options out there. At some point, it also comes down to dollars as well. The mistake was extending Therrien's contract. Last season was a lost year and it was pointless to fire him, no one could have come in and helped us especially with Price injured.

Should have just got rid of him . It didn't matter the team we out of the playoffs by November

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4 hours ago, GreekHockeyCoach said:

The mistake was not getting a good backup. We had Budaj and let him go, instead we went with Condon who was clearly not up to the task.

I  think Condon was fine . He's doing fine this year with Ottawa under kinds similar cirumstances, filling in when the starter was off an exteneded time

It was the TEAM as a whole , with their system that was bad last year , and the year before for that matter

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7 hours ago, GreekHockeyCoach said:

I don't disagree with you but what would have been the point of firing Therrien last year when there weren't any viable options out there. At some point, it also comes down to dollars as well. The mistake was extending Therrien's contract. Last season was a lost year and it was pointless to fire him, no one could have come in and helped us especially with Price injured. The mistake was not getting a good backup. We had Budaj and let him go, instead we went with Condon who was clearly not up to the task.

All I'm saying it that when the right Francophone coach was made available, he made the right move. Other than that, MB has made way too many mistakes for me to give him credit as a GM in his tenure here in Montreal. Although I do believe that some of the trades he made were influenced by Therrien and the team that he wanted to field on the ice.

There's no doubt we made the right move for Julien. I agree with you that he and Vigneault are the two best Francophone coaches in the NHL, and to me, Julien is a better coach than Vigneault by a fair bit too. Therrien is way down the list, albeit I see no purpose in hiring Hartley or Roy, who are just as bad but then get more time to do what they want. I would not have fired MT for either of those two guys. I would have done it for Boucher, even though Boucher isn't in the same class as CJ or AV. But at some point, with Therrien struggling for several years, how long do you wait for one of those two guys to become available? In retrospect now, we ended up better off by having not fired MT and getting CJ, but AT THE TIME last year, the right move was to fire Therrien. AT THE TIME, two years ago, the right move was to fire Therrien. Again, I'll reiterate that if the market for Francophone coaches is really that poor that you can't afford to fire a weak coach, then maybe you ought to reconsider the position that a French coach needs to be hired. TSN reported that Mike Babcock wanted to interview here and he has ties to the city. Should MB not have at least considered him, interviewed him, and allowed him to take French classes? All indications are that he asked to interview Gallant for the head coaching job and that Gallant was the next choice after CJ, so there is definitely some admission of flexibility there. And of course we've all heard about former Hab Larry Robinson wanting to coach here. There were other options, there are other options now... I'm really pleased we got Julien. To me, he's a top 5 coach in the league. But I think MB kind of backed into him, and I don't really give him credit for the move. He made the right move now, but he made it after several years of failing to make the right move.

 

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While there's no proof, and I'm sure nobody in the room will ever admit it,  the night and day change in Price's play puts in my mind that he and some other players orchestrated Therrien's departure and forced Bergevin's hand.     Include in there the meeting MB had with Price, Weber and Paccioretty without MT present etc and I think the players finally gave up on Monsieur Terrible.      I just don't buy that a player of Price's caliber could play as poorly as he did for the 10 games leading up to MT's termination to magically turning it around with 5 straight wins, a GAA of less than one and a crazy good save percentage under Julien.    

Sure Juliens' coaching and system might have improved Price's numbers somewhat .. but his play is clearly night and day.   And the head coach has very little to do with how the goalie performs.   

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2 hours ago, HabsAlways said:

     I just don't buy that a player of Price's caliber could play as poorly as he did for the 10 games leading up to MT's termination to magically turning it around with 5 straight wins, a GAA of less than one and a crazy good save percentage under Julien.    

It was more than 10 days

Save percentage by month:

October: .954

November: .944

December: .899

January: .906

February: .879

 

Dec 16 - he got pulled after letting in 4 goals against SJ and stared down the bench , or the  coach, depending on your view .

http://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/nhl/carey-price-start-saturday-pulled-staring-bench/

He hasn't been very good until the coaching change

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Position is still fragile despite that 6 point gap. Things could change drastically before our B2B with the Sens. We have 3 tough games up next and they have a breeze of a schedule the rest of this week and into next  (Dallas, Arizona, the Avs. and Tampa). If we falter they'll be in the drivers seat pretty quickly.

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7 hours ago, H_T_L said:

Position is still fragile despite that 6 point gap. Things could change drastically before our B2B with the Sens. We have 3 tough games up next and they have a breeze of a schedule the rest of this week and into next  (Dallas, Arizona, the Avs. and Tampa). If we falter they'll be in the drivers seat pretty quickly.

Why do the Sens ALWAYS seem to have a breeze of a schedule?

We are one sniper away from making a decent playoff run. Never seems to be any breathing room or any sort of offence that inspires confidence.

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22 hours ago, Ewen said:

Why do the Sens ALWAYS seem to have a breeze of a schedule?

We are one sniper away from making a decent playoff run. Never seems to be any breathing room or any sort of offence that inspires confidence.

The thing about the Sens' schedule is that they have 2 games in hand. While one could read that to mean: if Ottawa wins those 2 "in hand" games we're tied in the standings, it also means they have to play 2 more games than we do down the stretch. That's 2 more games they'll be playing against teams that are desperate to either a) jockey for position, b ) make the playoffs, or c) play spoiler to others' playoff aspirations.

Either way, it's 2 games we've already got in the rear view mirror and recovered from.

...

Breathing room? We had it and then used it to pay for an upgrade behind the bench.

It was worth every point. ;)

 

 

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